Has your parish council met its new legal duties from 1st July 2015?

All smaller town and parish councils have a legal duty to publish detailed information on a website from the 1st July 2015.

 

Article Contents - Click on a link below

What is a smaller authority?

Smaller Parish Councils Background

Larger Town and Parish Councils Data publication & public access Code of Recommended Practice

To whom does this code apply? (Larger Town and Parish Councils)

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Existing legal publication requirements (All Councils)

Smaller Councils publication requirements

Smaller Parish Council Timetable Summary

Timetable for the publication of information (Smaller Authorities)

Some of the information your smaller Parish Council MUST publish

 

What is a smaller authority?

The code defines a smaller authority as...

“This Code applies to the following types of authorities in England with an annual turnover not exceeding £25,000: parish councils, internal drainage boards, charter trustees and port health authorities (“smaller authorities”).

Turnover is defined as the higher of an authority’s gross income for the year and its gross expenditure for the year.”

Source DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)

 

Smaller Parish Councils Background

All smaller town and parish councils are to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age.

The writing would appear to have been on the wall for some time.

Yet many Councils have failed to heed the warnings.

  • The most significant change requires Council websites to publish a wide variety of information
  • The object is to make smaller town and Parish Councils more open and transparent to residents

The code includes the statement that...

“The data and information specified in this Code must be published on a website which is publicly accessible free of charge. For example, one way that this requirement could be achieved could be by publishing the data on the smaller authority’s website or that of the billing authority in its area (district or London borough or unitary council).”

Source DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)

 

"Armchair auditors will be able to hold their councils to account over how they spend parking profits, clamp down on fraud and collect household rubbish as part of a new wave of town hall transparency, ushered in by Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins (3 October 2014).

 

This government is strengthening the public’s ability to scrutinise local councils by ensuring they get the data they deserve through the local government transparency code so they can play a bigger role in the local democratic decision making process.

 

Ministers believe people should be able to hold local councils to account about the services they provide. But to do this, the public needs information about what decisions local councils are taking, and how local councils are spending public money.

 

Ministers have already ended the Audit Commission’s top-down inspection for local government and are replacing it with new local arrangements for auditing councils. Today, they extended the transparency code and announced it will become a legal requirement for councils to help taxpayers scrutinise their work."

Source DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) 

 

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said:

“Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and local accountability. Therefore it is only right we give Council Tax payers the data they deserve to play a bigger role in local democracy.”
“This new wave of town hall transparency will empower armchair auditors right across the land to expose municipal waste and ensure councils are making the sensible savings necessary to freeze Council Tax and protect frontline services.”
“For instance, opening up parking profits to the eyes of local democracy will protect residents from the risk of being treated as cash cows by trigger-happy town hall traffic wardens and expose councils using parking policies in an unlawful way.”

Source DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)

 

Editors note:

  • However for most Town and Parish Councils there is no where for residents to report illegal actions
  • As with the Code of Conduct taxpayers rights have been seriously eroded
  • A 4 year ballot box solution is no solution when taxpayers are denied their legal rights

 

Larger Town and Parish Councils Data publication & public access Code of Recommended Practice

  • The Code sets out key principles for local authorities in creating greater transparency through the publication of public data
  • The Code does not replace or supersede the existing legal framework for access to public sector information
  • Following this Code should help local authorities to meet these obligations to achieve the routine publication of more data to enhance public accountability
  • This also now includes the data and information on which policy decisions are based

 

To whom does this code apply? (Larger Town and Parish Councils)

  • The Code applies in England only

A local authority means:

  • a county council
  • a district council
  • a parish council which has gross annual income or expenditure (whichever is the higher) of at least £200,000
  • a London borough council
  • Others bodies are also defined in the code of practice

 

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